Serotonergic modulating drugs for functional gastrointestinal diseases

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2002 Jul;54(1):11-20. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2125.2002.01612.x.


After many years of basic research we have now begun to learn how to manipulate the serotonergic mechanisms within the gut. This has lead to a number of significant advances including 5HT3 antagonists for the treatment of functional diarrhoea, 5HT4 agonists for the treatment of constipation and 5HT1 agonists for the treatment of impaired fundal relaxation. Initial enthusiasm has been somewhat dented by the withdrawal of alosetron because of ischaemic colitis, but it remains to be seen whether this adverse event will be seen with other 5HT3 antagonists. Finally it should be recognized that, in a substantial proportion of patients attending clinics complaining of functional symptoms, anxiety is a major component. The drugs so far described are by and large devoid of CNS effects. It remains possible therefore that a drug which combines both peripheral and central effects would likely to be beneficial.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colon / physiology
  • Digestive System / metabolism
  • Eating / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Peristalsis / drug effects
  • Receptors, Serotonin / physiology
  • Sensation / drug effects
  • Serotonin Antagonists / therapeutic use*


  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Serotonin Antagonists